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Asia-Pacific Leads Innovation Race

Asia-Pacific Leads Innovation Race

In a recent ranking of the world’s most innovative countries, Asia-Pacific continues to lead the pack, according to Bloomberg’s 2015 ranking of the top 50 most innovative countries.  The top spot was awarded to South Korea while Japan took second place, followed by Singapore at number eight, Australia at 13, and New Zealand coming in at 18th.  Other Asian countries that rounded out the top fifty include China (22nd), Malaysia (27th), Hong Kong (34th), and Thailand at number 46.
South Korea took the top spot mainly due in part to their ability to recover, and invest money and government support into research and development, education, and patents.  Global innovator Samsung, invested $14 billion into Research and Development in South Korea in 2014.  The country has a rich history of innovation and in the last fifty years has experienced unprecedented growth:  it was once poorer than Bolivia but today it’s richer than Spain with a per capita income of almost $23,000.  In 2010, it became the first Asian country and first non-G-7 member to host a G-20 summit honored it.


Surprisingly, it was another Asian country that ranked the highest in terms of manufacturing.  Singapore’s high-tech electronic industry had a hand in making it third, behind Ireland and Switzerland.  The electronics industry is the foundation of Singapore’s economy, contributing over 5.2% to its Gross Domestic Product.  Singapore is continually listed as one of the world’s leading innovators and it continues to create a culturally diverse center for innovation.


Additionally, the Asia-Pacific region continues its development and innovation into the global healthcare industry.  The private healthcare business in Singapore is expected to exceed the United States by $3 billion by the year 2020 while South East Asian countries are working hard to establish a shift from hospital healthcare to primary care for residents.  Alleviating the pressure on hospitals and clinics while improving primary care has led to initiatives that will improve access to basic healthcare and services.  One of the most innovative ways that Malaysia has improved its healthcare industry is to merge technology and healthcare, creating wearable devices that alert users to health concerns and the need for primary care treatment.


The Asia-Pacific financial market is also leading the way for further innovation.  A new report identifies at least fifty new mobile innovations including mobile payments and mobile marketing, both of which remain top investment priorities for banks in Asia.  Some of these innovations have the potential to change the way banks in Asia interact with their customers, especially when it comes to payments, marketing and loyalty, investments, and even its workforce management.  While mobile technology has became a core component in customer service in Western countries, Asia-Pacific continues to embrace mobile technology as the main ingredient in marketing and communication channels.


As Asia-Pacific continues to face such challenges as persistent poverty, climate-induced natural disasters, and competition for natural resources, innovation becomes the key factor to truly sustain development.  Responding to a multitude of challenges requires new ways of thinking as well as innovative technologies that can solve some of these problems.  Asia-Pacific is well on its way to global innovative powerhouse as its approach to innovative policies takes the next step forward.